Now that I have finally finished painting my wife’s Rebel figures, it is time to start on the Imperial forces -- a lesson in blacks, whites, and chiaroscuro. What better figure to start with than the pallid face of evil itself, the Emperor. While painting this principally monotone model, I set the following goals:
- I want him to stand out when compared with Vader, which meant he couldn’t be black-black
- I want his robe dark enough to contrast well with his pale skin, and
- I want a true black inner robe
Based on these priorities, I settled on a dark blue-gray for his robe.
I started out with a zenithal priming. Typically, I use a black Vallejo surface primer, apply gray from a 45-degree angle, and finish with some white from above. Since this was going to be a dark model, I chose to mix a little grey into the black, for a soft zenithal highlight, and omitted the white.
The table below details the colors and ratios I used for each part of the model. I used Vallejo model color paints and the Army Painters Quickshades for all my tones.
Dark Sea Blue
|Airbrushed on in a 1:1 mix of Black / Dark Sea Blue, trying to leave the deep recesses|
|Ivory||Added into the airbrush mix and reinforced the zenithal prime
Used Black/Dark Sea Blue/Ivory for highlights
Shaded with a 4:1 mix of Dark Tone and Purple Tone
|Inner Robes||Black||Based the inner robe with Black|
|Neutral Gray||Added Neutral Gray to the base as highlight to the inner robe|
|Skin||Light Flesh||Painted a few thin coats over the very dark skin areas
Shaded with Flesh Wash
Applied Red Tone in and around the eyes and blended together
Light Flesh used to pick out the highlights
|Cane||Japanese Uniform||Applied a solid base coat of Japanese Uniform|
|Flat Earth||Watered down Flat Earth applied a thin layer over the cane|
|Chocolate Brown||Watered down Chocolate Brown and applied a thin layer over the cane|
|Mixed a 1:5 highlight of Dark Sand / Japanese Uniform|
|Smoke||Watered down Smoke and applied as a wash|
|Base||Burnt Umber||Thinned down Burnt Umber to use as a wash, assuming a light grey white base|
|Flat Earth||Thinned down Flat Earth and blended, as a wash
When dry, applied Dark Tone in recessed areas
|Pale Sand||Dry brushed Pale Sand|
|Black||Painted the rim black|
Reflections on Sinister Figures
Using the airbrush to apply a basecoat gave me a smooth surface from which to work. After subtly highlighting the dark-blue robe, and ensuring the inner robe was a darker black, I’m happy with the subtle highlights and contrasts on this primarily monotone model. I think I could have drawn out the contrast a bit more, but overall, I achieved my color goals.
When he stands alone, it is hard to see how ‘not black’ he really is. When side-by-side with his protégé, Vader, it’s easier to see the difference between the blue-gray cloth of the Emperor and the black leather, plate, and robe of Vader.
All in all, the Emperor was a quick and satisfying miniature to paint.
That is it for now. Until next time, adventure on!